Dog fight turns into gender row

By ZELDA VENTER Time of article published Mar 15, 2019

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Pretoria -  The word “gay” in a summons against a woman and her son for allegedly giving a rare breed of dog “the snip” may have dire consequences for a Pretoria lawyer and his client.

Francois Janse van Rensburg, who is being sued with his mother, Helena Janse van Rensburg, was referred to in the summons as “an adult gay male”.

He vehemently objected to this reference and demanded that attorney Mario Coetzee, who was responsible for issuing the summons, remove the word “gay” from the document.

Coetzee subsequently gave notice that he would amend his pleadings by no longer referring to Janse van Rensburg as “a gay male”, but as a “heterosexual male”.

He objected to this, too, and pointed out to the court that in terms of the rules, a summons simply referred to a person by his or her full names and gender.

“The rules do not require that a party should cite any of the parties’ sexuality or sexual orientation,” Janse van Rensburg said in papers before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

Coetzee amended his summons to simply state “an adult male” when it referred to Janse van Rensburg.

Janse van Rensburg then told the court that by changing the wording, Coetzee as well as his client and dog owner Ralph van der Merwe admitted that they should not have referred to him as a “gay” male.

The reference to the applicant as a “gay” male could only be taken as scandalous, vexatious and irrelevant, the court was told. It was further said that this “misconduct” was so serious that the court, during a previous hearing, decided the conduct of Coetzee had to be investigated by the law society.

Janse van Rensburg said this conduct was in fact so malicious and scandalous it should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for the investigation of possible criminal charges against Coetzee and his client, for the possible contravention of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

Coetzee, in his papers, defended using of the word “gay” by stating that in an unrelated domestic violence case Janse van Rensburg was referred to as “gay” and this remained uncontested. Thus, he said, it was regarded as the truth before any court.

He said the first time this was contested was when the summons was served. Coetzee said he in any event changed the wording, and this should have brought the matter to an end.

He added that Janse van Rensburg did not need the permission of the court to have the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office or the law society investigate his complaint.

The issue around Priscilla, the pure-bred Neapolitan mastiff that got “the snip”, is still raging on.

The “snip” of the rare breed of dog was allegedly used as revenge after Van der Merwe and Helena’s relationship hit the rocks.

It is alleged that to get back at her former partner, the woman fetched Priscilla from his home while he was in hospital. She allegedly took the dog to the vet, where she ordered “the snip”.

Van der Merwe is claiming more than R1.2 million from her and her son, saying he had wanted to breed with Priscilla.

Pretoria News

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